Aesthetics Free Culture

Artists Should Work

Laura Barton talks to the high priestess of punk, Patti Smith | By genre | Guardian Unlimited Books

Smith is nothing if not a grafter. She prickles at the modern notion of rock as a glamorous vocation, of stars made overnight, of the MTV generation’s iPodded consumerism. “You have to kick doors open yourself. When people come up to me and say, ‘Patti, nobody wants to hear my CD and I don’t have enough money for equipment,’ I say, ‘Well, get a job, y’know?’ That’s what I did. You get people who say, ‘The government won’t give me a grant and I can’t do my art.’ I say, ‘Fuck you, it’s your own fault, you expect the government to give you a hand? The government is corrupt. Do what it takes. You do babysitting jobs, you work in the factory, you work in the bookstore or become a pickpocket, y’know? But whatever. Get a job.’ Work is really good for an artist.” Her features sharpen and there is a fierce set to her mouth. “My son is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever heard. And how does he make his money? He does manual labour, he does landscaping, he digs ditches. He’s out there sometimes eight to 12 hours a day because he lives in Detroit and it’s hard to get work there. But it’s good, it’s good. Artists should work.”